The upper-middle class is an odd species to say the least. I currently work in a high-end luggage store and I feel like Jane Goodall. America's caste system has never been so apparent to me. I sit back and watch them as they run their fingers across the leathers, nylons, and lightweight canvasses. They frown and humph, upset that the bag is missing their exact, weirdly precise specifications. Why has no one built me a custom bag already?! When I have the audacity to suggest something different than what they chose (or, the European God forbid, something out of their price range but they don't want to tell me that) they scoff and get angry that I even deigned to assist them in their impossible search. I never have the gumption to tell them that if they don't find it here, they won't find it anywhere. This store (shop? Though, "shop" makes me sound like a skilled artisan with actual goods and talent to offer. Instead, I'm standing in a sea of self-healing zippers and unnatural fabrics, not knowing what to say or do at all. At least my "guests" are interesting.
These people generally have the world. They have multiple cars, multiple houses, and take more vacations per year than I will take in my life time. They come in and boast about their child at some ivy league or equivalent, puffing out their chest and beaming with undeserved pride. I mean, toot toot for your kid. But I'm sure growing up in a gorgeous, gated golf community and attending cotillion had a lot to do with their success. I'm not trying to diminish anyone's achievements. I just wish those who are so deeply ensconced in the upper earning percentiles they can't see us little people on the ground could wake up and realize that they sit on pedestals made of down pillows and expect all of us to plump them.
My favorite (and most recent) story is one of a lady and her husband came in. She had the air of "you're all below me," while he had a fairly amicable smile and was at least attempting to make normal human contact. The woman came to me and in the voice of Lucille Bluth herself says, "This is a Prada bag. I don't know if you're aware, buy this bag is very expensive and very special. I need a tag that won't distract from the bag so if someone finds it they'll be able to return it to me."
You naive little nouveau-riche idiot.
It was everything I could do to withhold a laugh. Not to mention this woman's assumption that I needed Prada explained to me. I know luxury fashion brands better than Lagerfeld himself, thankyouverymuch. Just because I'm broke with student loans darkening my horizons doesn't mean I don't appreciate a well-constructed accessory. Geez.
Anyways. She was just really excited to brag. So I let her. As a rule, I don't encourage boasting. I refuse to sit there with feigned awe as you go all "rambler without a cause" on me. But, in the name of getting her out of the store quickly, I stared blankly, inserting a complacent. "oh okay," and a "wow" or two. She seemed placated.
I recently got my first big sale. I will say, I have never been treated quite like this woman treated me. Every other sentence was something passive-aggressive and condescending. She would ask me a question and then interject my answer with a completely unrelated, oddly specific question that I never knew the answer to (and when I didn't, she would get this smug, I knew it look on her face). She treated me like I imagine she treats everyone- like I would be lucky if my IQ were to exceed 50. I let her. For some reason I viewed taking oodles of her money would somehow make me feel better.
She wanted me to help her walk the luggage out to her car. I explained that I was the only person in the store and couldn't just leave it for her. This was apparently the very wrongest thing I could have possibly said. She looked at a group of African American people shopping in the store and then looked back at me, lowered her voice and said, "I don't feel comfortable leaving with this stuff alone. You'll have to take me to my car."
Some people just think the world should stop for them. Too bad once you prove to be a racist piece of crap, I no longer give any more fucks about you.
When Security showed up, it was a tall, African American woman and gentleman (she was training him). The lady shouted, "ARE YOU SECURITY?!" and the security guard looked down at her (very obvious) security uniform and looked back as if to say, "Uh. Yeah." I didn't know whether to laugh or sink to the floor to resign myself to two more hours of berating. Because obviously everything was my fault.
Long story short, the lady got her expensive luggage. It wasn't all in the box, like she demanded 18 times, even though I explained EVERY TIME that it would take a YEAR to order a brand new bag. And even though she threatened multiple times to buy online, she purchased in-store. So I got abused and humiliated- to be honest, I could use the ego deflation. What matters is I got a big sale and feel overall okay about it.
My life is so exciting.